Sha Creative Outlet: XS at The Center at West Park
choreographed by Shannon Yu
performed by Shannon Yu and Sarah Zucchero
soundtrack by Arabelle Luke aka Airloom Beats
Paper scraps frame the doorway to the cathedral which houses The Center at West Park, creating a magical threshold. In this iteration of the ongoing craft project that is XS, paper expands to influence the whole space: it’s growing from every corner, secret and powerful. XS chronicles a metamorphosis of paper. Sha and Sarah are dedicated to exploring all possible options: what else, what more, what next? The paper unfolds, rips, reveals; the paper breathes its stories.
Sha and Sarah have been with this material for a while, studying its propensities, its likes and dislikes, its edges. The big white paper proves unpredictable, and that’s where the fun lies. At times, it’s sensitive— moody and fragile— and at other times it’s beautiful and resilient. The paper enjoys the adventure. It’s so expressive, stretched across the stage. The way it wrinkles and flops and tears matches the deft unfoldings of Sha’s brisk choreography.
With this iteration of XS, we see Sha’s extensive work with paper deepen and expand: the visual art world meets the physical world in a full reunion. XS displays internal unity, from projection to painting to costumes. Sha’s signature style— quirky, bold, and specific— explodes off the paper and extends from the dancers’ bodies to make a total aesthetic environment.
The piece explores the paper as a generative surface, a place to further modify and reflect upon. Pulsing video footage of cell division, hands and eyes, swirling designs, and strange logos scatter and zoom across the paper, which grows like a gigantic mushroom as Sarah pushes it vertically from the inside. Projection references Sha’s other film work— and unlocks another dimension of space, time, and imagery.
As the dancers unfurl the paper, Sarah’s eyes go wide and she produces a marker. Yet another experiment! A new dimension unlocked, again! As if chronicling the history of a mythological civilization or mapping her own physicality to get to this moment, Sarah scribbles abstract, gestural designs from one end of the paper to the other. She uses her whole body, exaggerating the act of drawing until it becomes profound— the physical equivalent to using funny voices when reading a story to a child at bedtime. Sha pulls the paper taut, turns a laconic eye towards Sarah’s enthusiastic expressions.
At long last, the scroll stops scrolling. The paper, suspended, hovers above the stage. There’s an archive, an additive document, a surface with markings all over it. We don’t understand exactly what this means, but we don’t have to. The feeling of importance and play is all we need.
This version boasts additional depth in terms of the relationship of the dancers to the props; because of this deeper relationality, the stakes feel higher. The play is more boisterous, the movements are sharper and more defined, the mischievous looks between Sha and Sarah also implicate the paper. No longer a duet— this is clearly a trio.
Like a giant notebook portfolio or a crumpled map in the glove box of a borrowed car, the paper endures, holds the changes, shows the history of Sha and Sarah’s togetherness— and our witnessing of that togetherness.